I’ve got a lot of milkweed planted in the front yard, specifically to attract Monarch butterflies. I’m not seeing any Monarch action out there yet, but I’ve got a problem escalating out there. Aphids are taking over. I’ve lost milkweed in the past from aphid damage so I wasn’t thrilled to discover this again. I’ve been washing down the plants every couple of days, and have sprayed with Safer Insecticidal Soap, which has helped, but the aphids seemed to be winning.
Today I discovered that ladybugs are trying to taking a stand against the aphids. There is a lot of ladybug larvae wandering around on the plants. Now my dilemma, how do I keep the aphids under control without harming my ladybug population? I’ve decided to let nature takes its course.
Lady bugs only eat aphids and there’s a lot for them to eat. It will be interesting to see who wins, the lady bugs or the aphids. These larvae aren’t very cuddling looking, are they?!
The larvae below is almost completely mature. Still a little rugged looking, but looking more like a lady bug.
Did you know there are over 500 different kinds of lady bugs in the United States? I usually see this kind, orange with the black spots, or solid dark red ones. Look at all those spots!
There are four stages in a lady bug’s life – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The first three stages vary from 7-21 days each depending on the weather, and food supplies. The adult stage lasts between 3-9 months depending on weather, length of hibernation, food supplies and, of course, predators. I’ve got a little circle-of-life action going on in the front yard!